CONCERNED councillors are calling for direct action from the UK Government to help save the under-threat Wilko store in Greenock as fears over its future escalate.

Greenock Telegraph:

Councillor Martin McCluskey, who will be Labour's candidate at the next general election, has joined forces with local authority colleagues representing the town centre to urge business and trade secretary Kemi Badenock to intervene.

The struggling high street chain is teetering on the brink after falling into administration, raising fears for the Oak Mall outlet and the jobs of its workers.

The GMB union has been fighting to protect staff by ensuring that administrators consider all offers on the table from prospective new owners, but no buyer has been found as yet.

A £90m rescue deal which had been on the table fell through today.

The closure of Wilko would be a hammer blow to the flagging Greenock town centre, which has been hit with a number of closures in recent years.

The loss of the store would also be bring another blow to Inverclyde on the back of closures at Amazon, IBM and Berry BPI this year.

Mr McCluskey, in a joint letter with Labour colleagues Francesca Brennan and Jim Clocherty, said: "We have a Wilko store in our area, and for years it has provided crucial jobs for working people in our area.

"Behind every one of these store closures are workers who will now lose their livelihood.

"This is truly awful news for them and their families.

"The next few weeks will be crucial for these workers’ future, and in turn for their role within our economy during a cost-of-living crisis."

The group have asked what the government is doing to ensure that meaningful consultation is conducted and raised questions about claims that potential buyers are having difficulty engaging with the administrators.

They added: "There is still the possibility that some stores may be bought, either as part of a package or individually. What options has the government considered to support the sale of Wilko stores and protect as many jobs as possible?

"How will the government ensure that administrators consider every offer made for Wilko?"

Councillors Brennan and Clocherty promised that action on the town centre and the Oak Mall would be a priority when they were elected last year.

The Levelling Up project to revamp them has secured funding, but Wilko going into administration with the potential loss of jobs has brought fresh uncertainty.

Smaller traders have told the Tele that they rely on the presence of national retailers like Wilko and Primark to attract shoppers into the town centre.

A GMB said: "GMB Scotland has welcomed reports of new interest in taking over the stricken chain as redundancies are suspended pending further talks.

“Whilst this is a positive development, Wilko is not out of the woods by any means and this is a time of incredible stress and worry for the workers who face losing their jobs."